In a matter of days, Naomi Campbell rounded up an all-star lineup for Friday's "Fashion for Relief," a benefit runway show for Hurricane Katrina victims. After a few words from Sarah Ferguson and Vogue's André Leon Talley, Beyoncé Knowles, Nicole Richie, Amerie, Kelly Osbourne, and Wyclef Jean hit the catwalk with seasoned pros like Carmen Kass, Gemma Ward, Alek Wek, Jacquetta Wheeler and Alexandra and Theodora Richards. There were even some real old timers like Janice Dickinson, Rachel Hunter, Carmen Dell'Orefice and Pat Cleveland, whose signature shimmy caused a near pile-up of models.
Campbell broke from her supermodel stride to grab Diddy from the front row and take him for a spin down the runway, much to the delight of a boisterous audience that included Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed, Zac Posen, Anna Sui, Damon Dash, Rachel Roy, Iman, Foxy Brown and Heatherette's Richie Rich and Traver Rains. Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale buzzed by after her L.A.M.B. show at Roseland, in which Campbell also walked.
Before things got under way, some couldn't contain their excitement. "I am all giddy, this is so much fun," said Heatherette's Rains. "I was backstage and every supermodel in the world was there. My jaw will be dropping on the runway."
Others had a few reservations. Backstage, Beyoncé's mother, Tina Knowles, said her daughter was apprehensive about sharing the runway with professional models. "She said to me, 'I can't believe you talked me into doing this.' I told her she has to go into her Sasha mode, her stage persona. Beyoncé is not diva-like in her person. That's what she gives on stage."The scene was a mad scramble, with Kass getting her tresses done, Richie stepping into the portaloos and Angie Everhart chatting up Steve Bing. But Bing's charity only went so far. When approached by a reporter, he only offered, "Truthfully, I have never done an interview in my life."
Richie, on the other hand, has learned to live with her media shadow. As much as she would like to see the paparazzi back off, she tries to keep things in perspective. "I definitely understand that they're doing a job. But they definitely get a little pushy. I just try to ignore it. I surround myself with my friends," Richie said. "It is what it is. It just wasn't the same when my dad was at the pinnacle of his career."
The $100 individual ticket sales for the fashion show benefited AmeriCares, and an auction of the donated designer clothes will begin Thursday on Yahoo.com. Sui said, "You feel so helpless. Everyday you hear about repercussions of it and it's overwhelming. This is a way for us to help."
The finale featured all of the models in jeans and a Ralph Lauren-designed Fashion for Relief charity T-shirt, which is available at Polo.com. Earlier Friday while attending Lauren's show, Campbell said, "In all this, he stopped his production to make these T-shirts. Ralph makes it truly American and legitimate."
Once her production was a wrap, Campbell described her down-to-the-wire rush. "It was right to the last minute like things always are in my life."
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